Tag Archives: autograph

Blockbuster-Branded (and Subsequently Autographed) Godzilla 2000 VHS

The time is right for this one.

I guess I got the inkling for this a few weeks back, when I covered that widescreen ’98 Godzilla VHS. As a follow-up to that post, I initially planned on dragging out a copy of the regular, full-screen edition of the movie; not so much for the sake of comparison, but rather because it was a used VHS, re-sealed and branded by Blockbuster video, as was their habit back in the day. Found for only 60 cents at a thrift store, it was an impossibly cool artifact of the late-1990s video store era, one that I was going home with the instant I found it. I’m a sucker for tapes with old Blockbuster stickers all over ’em.

That post obviously never happened, though it still could at some point, depending on how industrious I feel.

Instead, for several reasons, not the least of which being personal memories, I’m going with this tape today, the US VHS release of Godzilla 2000. It’s got the same late-1990s/early-2000s-ness about it, and the same Blockbuster-factor, but it’s a different movie – and it’s signed. Take note of that, because that’s where the personal memories part come in.

First though, the tape (and movie) itself. Godzilla 2000, was released in Japan at the end of 1999 and in the US in August 2000. Unlike many (most?) of the then-new entries in the series, Godzilla 2000 was released theatrically here, and coming off the controversial ’98 Hollywood product two years prior, it almost seemed like a “here’s your real Godzilla!” move. Maybe it was intended that way?

For my part, I did indeed see the film in the theater. The chance to see my first “real” Godzilla movie on the big screen? I almost never went to the movies then, or now for that matter, but I made an exception for ‘Zilla.

My fandom, which was only a few years old at that time, was still evolving, and the sad fact of the matter was that it was probably around that point that I realized I just wasn’t real big on the “new” entries in the series. The Columbia/Tristar VHS releases of movies from the 1990s (heretofore unavailable in the US, to the best of my knowledge) were coming out, Godzilla 1985 had been re-released on tape, there was 1989’s Godzilla vs. Biollante (released by HBO with absolutely stunning cover art), and the one thing I took away from all that was this: They just didn’t do much for me. I’m an “original series” guy; that is, I dig the entries from the 1950s through 1970s, but after that, I must admit my interest wanes. That’s probably anathema to admit to any serious kaiju fan, I know, but I can’t lie to you, my bored reader. (In all fairness though, I haven’t seen the film since that visit to the theater back in 2000; maybe it held up better than I’m expecting?)

So anyway, Godzilla 2000. It was neat, it was cool to see in theaters, but truth be told, it didn’t blow me away. As such, I committed the previously-inconceivable act of not picking up the VHS release as soon as it came out.

As you can see, I eventually wound up with a copy, the circumstances of which I’ll get to momentarily. Say what you want about the film, you can’t deny it was given a positively striking release on VHS. I had to tilt my camera a bit when taking the picture, lest the flash overwhelm the artwork, and that’s why the image above isn’t “straight on.” Still, this worked out; it gives you a good impression of the textured front cover. The regular edition of Godzilla 1998 featured a textured cover too, but this one is so, so much cooler; it’s got the real ‘Zilla on it, amidst the carnage you’ve come to know and love from him, and let’s be honest, adding “2000” to a title makes anything sound cooler.

The only part I personally would have dropped is the “GET READY TO CRUMBLE!” tagline. Yes, I know it was used in the promotion for the film’s US release, but it’s too pun-y; it sounds like something that would’ve wound up on a low budget, direct-to-video release. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. (Full Disclosure: I can’t get “REST IN…BEAST” via 1996’s Werewolf out of my head here.)

There’s the back cover. Ah, that tagline again!

My (probably arbitrary) qualms with that aside, it’s a perfectly serviceable back cover and synopsis. It’d be even more serviceable if Blockbuster hadn’t obscured ‘Zilla’s head and Lou Lumeni-somebody’s quote with their big huge used VHS sticker. The price? Uh, “$*”. I no longer recall what that means, if I ever did, but it probably meant “cheap.”

The synopsis certainly sells the movie adequately. It’s exciting, hyperbolic, and it’s got that little registered trademark thing after every utterance of “Godzilla.” Though, it does point to one aspect that I later became increasingly irritated with: The usage of UFOs/aliens/etc. as antagonists. By the 1970s, nearly every movie in the series used that to drive their plot, and the trend seemingly continued in the revived series. Once in awhile is fine, but frankly, I grew tired of it. That’s probably another arbitrary qualm on my part.

(The outstanding Toho Kingsom site features a gallery of Toho VHS art, and in their section for this tape, they state this was the last ‘Zilla flick to see VHS release in the US – which I have no problem believing.)

The Blockbuster sticker sez this was placed out for sale on April 16, 2001. That’s not when I got it though. In fact, this tape doesn’t even hail from Northeast Ohio. So where did it come from?

Chicago, believe it or not. I wasn’t there all happenstance, either. Nope, it was Godzilla himself that got me to Chi-Town back in the summer of 2001.

How so? G-Fest 2001, that’s how!

G-Fest is an annual Godzilla and general kaiju convention celebrating, uh, Godzilla and general kaiju. My fandom for all things ‘Zilla may have tapered off somewhat from its late-1990s zenith, but I was (and am) still a huge fan of this stuff. So no, there was no need to resort to blackmail to get me there; I was no regular convention-goer by any means, but this was too neat to pass up!

It was a neat show, with plenty to see and do. I was mainly interested in the memorabilia, of course, and I picked up some cool tapes (we saw one before), both there and at a nearby Japanese mall, as well as some other assorted bits; indeed, the original lobby card for Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster I scored for $15 was a particular boon. (We also stopped at a yard sale one night; I picked up a couple old comics and a vintage Mattel handheld Basketball.)

By the way, the show was actually held July 13-15, 2001, and had I been on my game, I could have posted this on the anniversary date. But, I wasn’t so I didn’t.

I didn’t pick up this Godzilla 2000 at the show, though. Nope, we actually sought out a local Blockbuster, who just happened to have a used copy – which needless to say is why this article is happening. Somehow we found the place, the Godzilla 2000 VHS finally became mine, and I was prepared for the next day…

This section from the official program, which I dug out just for this post, explains all. They had special guests, and I wanted autographs.

I already had a copy of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, the 1991 flick that had only seen a VHS release in the US in, I don’t know, 1998 or so. So, I was ready to get Robert Scott Field’s signature on it (he played M-11 in the film), but I was woefully unprepared for Shinichi Wakasa, who as per the program, was responsible for the Godzilla suit in 2000.

The trip to Blockbuster solved that problem, and I met both guys on the Saturday date of that convention, ready to roll.

I want to say we got pictures with both. Either way, both were super nice guys I’m glad to have met. I was more familiar with Robert Scott Field, simply due to his on-screen presence in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, (I’ve still got my signed VHS, but that’s a subject for another post, another time), but there’s no denying it was cool to meet Mr. Wakasa, the man behind the Godzilla of Godzilla 2000. Even if I wasn’t huge on the movie, there’s no doubt his suit, and the special effects in general, were darn impressive.

So anyway, that’s Shinichi Wakasa’s signature you’re seeing at the bottom of the front cover of my Godzilla 2000 tape. I’m not sure anyone other than kaiju fans would know that unless I pointed it out, but I’m absolutely glad it’s there.

In summation, it was a neat experience, and the story of how I came to get the tape to be signed is, to me, even more interesting than if I had just picked it up brand new upon release. I’ve got a tale to tell along with the signature on it, and in addition it still exhibits the remnants of a now-gone video rental era. I dare say it’s a pretty cool piece of my collection thanks to all that!

R.I.P. Johnny Winter (1944-2014)

Well, this just sucks. Yesterday, blues-rock legend Johnny Winter passed away. I simply couldn’t believe the news when I hopped onto Facebook today, but sadly, it’s true. The news hit me with a total thud, and needless to say, I’m bummed.

I had the great fortune to meet Johnny this past November at Time Traveler Records in Cuyahoga Falls, and he couldn’t have been a nicer guy. Completely personable and giving of his time. Believe it or not, he had a concert to perform after the appearance, but even with that deadline, he took pictures with everyone that wanted one, and signed whatever people had. Such a cool guy. Even though it was months ago, it seems like I was just talking to him. Obviously I didn’t know him personally, I still feel a real sense of loss, as I’m sure so many other music lovers do as well right now.

R.I.P. Johnny, and thanks for all the great music.

I Met Johnny Winter At Time Traveler Records Tonight!

Tonight was full of “win.” Seriously, it was just one big giant “win.” Blues legend Johnny Winter, one of the greatest musicians ever, the Johnny Winter was live and in person at Time Traveler Records tonight! He signed autographs! He took pictures! He talked with people! And he couldn’t have been any nicer during all of it! Does it get any cooler than that?! No way can it get cooler than that.

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Of course, it wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment surprise, we knew about this event last month. I, my brother, the loyal customers and of course the owner of Time Traveler, Scott Shepard, we all did our part to spread the word. This was pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime event! A music legend, at the store that’s basically in my backyard and that I’m at a good part of the week anyway? No way in hell was I missing this! And I wasn’t the only one, because a lot of very cool people turned out for Johnny Winter’s Time Traveler appearance. The shot above was taken when it was coming time for Mr. Winter’s tour bus to pull in (rest assured, there were far more people inside than outside), and man, you can’t believe the anticipation. I was so jazzed last night, and that anticipation only built as today went on, as you may well imagine. Fortunately, it was a nice day, a little cloudy but fairly warm.

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There’s the bus when it first pulled in. Johnny was set to appear from 5 PM to 6 PM, and he got there right on time (actually, a little earlier). I took as many pictures beforehand as I could because, hey, I didn’t know if I was going to be allowed pics on the bus. I didn’t need to worry, because Johnny and the driver that was handling all this were very accommodating as far as photographs went.

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Basically, Johnny stayed on the bus, we formed a line, and one-by-one went in to meet him. This is one of those beforehand-pics, a super-candid exclusive shot, because again, I didn’t know if I was going to be allowed a close-up picture with him or not.

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My Brother went ahead of me, and got an actual Blues guitar autographed! According to mah Bro, Johnny was actually impressed by the guitar, asking some of the finer details about it, and even said it was pretty. Too cool!

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I handed the driver my camera, and he took pics of me meeting the man himself. I brought a vinyl copy of Johnny Winter, his second album and Columbia debut, to get signed.

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There’s your Northeast Ohio Video Hunter with the legend himself! He couldn’t have been any nicer, and while I only brought the one album to have signed, others brought multiple things, and he signed them all, completely free of charge. And, if someone didn’t have a record or CD, there were free glossy photos you could have autographed. Fact of the matter is that not every artist would go to those lengths to make sure everyone leaves happy, and of course I already highly respected Johnny Winter as it is, but that just impressed me all the more.

One thing I wish I would have brought but just didn’t have was a Johnny Winter 8-track. I got the idea a few nights ago, which by then was too late to get one off Ebay, and I didn’t come across any around town. Why an 8-track? Sure, they’re loooong obsolete, but they have a great solid, retro feel to them. Maybe I’m not explaining that well, I know, but something about an autographed Johnny Winter 8-track just seems so right. No matter, because the album I did get signed is beyond awesome.

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There’s a Time Traveler “cast photo” with Johnny Winter! From left-to-right: Mr. Winter (obviously!), Scott, me, Bald Dave (he introduces himself as “Steve”), my Brother, and a cool guy I just met tonight, Mark Shapiro.

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Fall evenings get dark quickly, and there’s a shot of the bus outside as night was falling. I love the look of the nighttime sky in the background.

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It really does get dark quickly this time of year (as you may well imagine), but the weather was so nice that a lot of us wound up congregating outside. There was a real party atmosphere, and why shouldn’t there be? We all just met Johnny Winter!

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There’s my Brother with his newly-signed Johnny Winter guitar. The thing is really, really badass.

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And there’s my signed Johnny Winter album. Way too cool. At one point, almost certainly long ago, “Paige” decided to helpfully sign it, too.

What a night! Johnny Winter has a show at Tangier Restaurant & Cabaret later, which a lot of the Time Traveler guys are going to. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it to that, but man, it was too cool of Mr. Winter to stop by beforehand. I can’t thank him enough for the experience, and I know I’m not alone in expressing gratitude.

The Official Johnny Winter Website: http://www.johnnywinter.net/

Time Traveler is located at 2615 State Road, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio 44223 and they can be reached at 330-923-4408.